David Niven tells the bizarre tale of Charles Feldman's 1967 film, Casino Royale. A film which was originally intended to be as faithful to Fleming as its predecessor, Thunderball, but turned into a unique cinematic car-crash featuring at least five different directors and a slew of writers including Woody Allen, Peter Sellers, Val Guest, Ben Hecht, Joseph Heller, Terry Southern, and Billy Wilder. It was also hideously over-budget at $12 million, making it one of the most expensive films ever made at the time.
The film famously featured an off-camera feud between Orson Welles and Peter Sellers, so Sellers would refuse to appear on set with Welles. Except for a couple of shots, neither would be in the studio at the same time. Sellers eventually walked off the production early, but not before attempting to re-write large chunks of it and channel his dead mother's directions. The final sequences included flying saucers and Frankenstein's Monster, but surprisingly it still made money. Possibly due to marketing strategy that included a naked tattooed lady on the film posters.
A similar image appears on the posters for this Fringe show in which actor Paul Lavers plays the role of David Niven. Niven was the central character in Casino Royale, and so a natural point of view to talk about the chaos happening around him. Like Niven, Lavers is a charming storyteller, who occasionally slips into other characters to weave this hour-long monologue. Lavers is witty, easy to watch and tells a fascinating, well researched tale.
The hour felt like it had slipped by far too quickly, and I left with a strong desire to find a video shop to rent the movie!